The Quantum Story: Book summary and reviews of The Quantum Story by Jim Baggott

The Quantum Story

A History in 40 Moments

by Jim Baggott

The Quantum Story by Jim Baggott X
The Quantum Story by Jim Baggott

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Book Summary

Utterly beautiful. Profoundly disconcerting. Quantum theory is quite simply the most successful account of the physical universe ever devised. Its concepts underpin much of the twenty-first century technology that we now take for granted. But at the same time it has completely undermined our ability to make sense of the world at its most fundamental level. Niels Bohr claimed that anybody who is not shocked by the theory has not understood it. The American physicist Richard Feynman went further: he claimed that nobody understands it.

The Quantum Story begins in 1900, tracing a century of game-changing science. Popular science writer Jim Baggott first shows how, over the space of three decades, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, and others formulated and refined the theory--and opened the floodgates. Indeed, since then, a torrent of ideas has flowed from the world's leading physicists, as they explore and apply the theory's bizarre implications. To take us from the story's beginning to the present day, Baggott organizes his narrative around forty turning-point moments of discovery. Many of these are inextricably bound up with the characters involved--their rivalries and their collaborations, their arguments and, not least, their excitement as they sense that they are redefining what reality means. Through the mix of story and science, we experience their breathtaking leaps of theory and experiment, as they uncover such undreamed of and mind-boggling phenomenon as black holes, multiple universes, quantum entanglement, the Higgs boson, and much more.

Brisk, clear, and compelling, The Quantum Story is science writing at its best. A compelling look at the one-hundred-year history of quantum theory, it illuminates the idea as it reveals how generations of physicists have grappled with this monster ever since.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The basic history behind the quantum revolution is well-known, but no one has ever told it in quite such a compellingly human and thematically seamless way." - Publishers Weekly

"Quantum theory may deny us the possibility of properly comprehending physical reality, but Baggott's account is smart and consoling." - Kirkus Reviews

"The history is as complex and involved as the theory itself, and Jim Baggott's history-through-vignettes approach brings out a wealth of fascinating detail about the personalities, philosophies and rivalries that guided its course...there are many good moments to be had." - New Scientist

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Jim Baggott is the author of Atomic: The First War of Physics and The Secret History of the Atomic Bomb, 1939-1949, A Beginner's Guide to Reality, and Beyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy, and the Meaning of Quantum Theory, among other books.

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